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Meru Networks Acquires Access Control Specialist

The Meru executive tells CRN that the acquisition will help Meru meet the BYOD phenomenon head-on.

According to Meru, it will now be able offer secure, policy-based wired and wireless controls for enterprise customers that require guest access -- hotels or hospitals, for example, that have high guest turnover, or retail locations with constant customer churn, as well as corporate offices needing secure access for employees or temporary visitors.

Identity is based in Manchester, U.K., and was founded in 2006. Its tools offer provisioning and notifications services that give guests their access credentials via e-mail or SMS, and also provide reporting, auditing and policy customization. Part of what's fueling the need for such a technology is the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, said Kamal Anand, senior vice president of product management at Meru.

"There's a tsunami of devices into the enterprise," Anand told CRN. "What has changed is that if you look historically in the enterprise, those devices that were there were owned by the enterprise. But now, the devices coming in are owned by whoever's walking in. If IT has to effectively provision all those devices and need to spend a large amount of time doing that, it's very inefficient and not cost effective."

"Guest access" is a broad term, Anand said, as it could refer to anyone from the families of a patient visiting overnight in a hospital, or gamers accessing a temporary network. It's often hard to track the sites' many guest users access in an efficient manner, he explained, but many countries require businesses to do that for legal reasons.

Meru had sought to add the technology via acquisition after realizing time-to-market on in-house development would be too slow, Anand explained. Identity was the best fit.

"The other criteria was that it had to be extremely easy to deploy and manage," he said. "And we are a complete channel-oriented company so we had to make sure the product is very easy to understand and deploy, and can be operated and deployed in 15 minutes."

Identity previously had an OEM relationship with Cisco, powering Cisco's NAC Guest Server product. According to Anand, that agreement with Cisco expired a year ago, and at the time of Identity's acquisition by Meru -- which was closed last week -- the company had no existing OEM partnerships in place.

Another key element of the Identity solution is that it provides a common infrastructure for services for both wired and wireless networks, Anand said. It's also vendor-neutral, and can work with wireless networking products from Cisco, Aruba and other Meru competitors.

"It's a very exciting addition to our portfolio," he said. "It lets the channel sell a solution and elevate their discussion."

Identity's entire team has joined Meru, Anand said, and Identity's Manchester headquarters is now a Meru research and development office. The Identity product will be rebranded as Meru, will run on Meru's service appliances, and will be available through Meru distributors and solution providers as early as October, he added.

Meru has staked its growth on virtualized 802.11n wireless technology, which has gained a healthy channel following in the cutthroat wireless LAN space. Meru has also been busy this year adding to its executive team; Carl Gustin, its new chief marketing officer, joined the company this summer.

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